Wisdom Prevails - Flyers Extended 5 Years
At the meeting of the Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission Thursday night wisdom prevailed as the commission voted to extend the agreement between the City and the Harbor Soaring Society (HSS) 5 years, not the one-year originally proposed.
HERE, by Parks Project Manager Bart Mejia, and brief presentations by members of the HSS, a discussion was held on the controversial language apparently added to the agreement by the City Attorney that imposed the responsibility on the HSS to enforce rules on ALL flyers at the park, not just their members. After a short discussion, which included the possibility of bringing the issue back again once the questionable segments were further vetted by the City Attorney, Chairman Byron de Arakal took charge and made a motion to extend the agreement for 5 years and without the controversial language mentioned above. The motion passed unanimously. It was nice to see sanity prevail.
Next up was the new Athletic Field Use and Allocation Policy recommendations, HERE. Recreation Supervisor Lisa McPherson led the discussion of the changes, which can be seen in an easy-to-understand redline version, Attachment 1, in the staff report.
As you might have expected, this one took a lot more conversation and presentations and opinions by representatives of several user groups. Many of the changes were purely cosmetic, updating the titles of departments and positions within the departments, but some were quite controversial and took some serious fleshing out.
For example, on page two, under section II, DEFINITION OF TERMS AND FEES, in the section defining Resident Status, there appeared this new sentence:
Special residency status is assigned for Group 1's that have any students attending any school (private or public) within the boundaries of the Newport Mesa Unified School District.
After examining that statement, including with user group representatives like Mark Arblaster (shown) it became very clear that it was quite problematic and had the potential to permit a user group with only 1 participant attending ANY school within the NMUSD to qualify as a Group 1 user. This certainly was not the intent, so - after several discussions with user group representatives - the language will be modified to narrow-down the definition to mean only youth baseball - Little League and Pony League.
LIGHTED FIELDS TO BE EXPANDED
The other VERY significant change that was made during the meeting was the modification of the fields to be potentially lighted. This has been a HUGE sticking point for de Arakal ever since he took his seat and he and others in the community have been working hard to find fields that could be lighted for youth soccer practice. AYSO 97 representative Brett Eckles was among those participating in this discussion. The upshot of the meeting last night was that several schools were added to the roster of fields to potentially be lighted - Woodland Elementary, Lindbergh School, Kaiser School and Back Bay High School. In addition, Harper School - which has been lighted recently - was removed from the roster. It is de Arakal's plan to develop some kind of a rotation program for lighted fields - a kind of "share the pain" program, as described by Commissioner Dean Abernathy.
You can read the summary in the staff report for the remainder of the issues addressed, including the exclusion from Group 1 status those that compensate local executive staff and/or board members. Friday Night Lights representative Scott Mahaffey had been the center of that controversy and addressed it last night.
The proposal to remove four trees from property adjacent to a Swan Drive home was approved. The tree request for Princeton Drive was denied.
THINGS ARE LOOKING UP
The Maintenance Services Manager's Report by Bruce Hartley was interesting to the three of us left in the auditorium. He mentioned that, for the first time in many years, his group is nearly fully staffed. Five new employees have recently been hired and only one vacancy exists. This has permitted the organization to move more briskly with projects that had stalled because of staffing issues. He mentioned completing more than 33 park and facility improvement projects and that the proposed Fiscal Year 2014/2015 budget will include $294,000 for "small" parks/facility projects.
KNAPP REPLACEMENT RECRUITMENT
Interim Parks and Community Services Manager Penny Loomer reported that the recruitment for a permanent replacement for the departed Bob Knapp is moving forward. Interviews will be conducted on May 14th and it is hoped to have a new person in place by July 1st.
Before closing the meeting de Arakal mentioned that Park Ranger Lorna Lyttle has recently deployed to Afghanistan, and is one of many members of the city staff who also serve in military reserve units. He praised her citizenship and wished her well during her anticipated 11 month absence.